The Directorate of Namibia Library and Archives Service in the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, targets for all public libraries to have access to computers and internet by the year 2022.
Namibia Library and Archives Service manages a network of 65 public libraries, of which 60 are currently offering free access to computers, and 57 are providing free access to internet in their communities.
Its director, Sarah Negumbo, noted that one of the aims of the ministry of education is to ensure public access to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in all public libraries.
"Public libraries in Namibia are shifting away from the traditional book lending services, to offering different kinds of services, which focuses on community needs, including technology-based information and training services," she said.
The directorate also announced a new partnership agreement with Electronic Information for Libraries, aimed to strengthen the continuous professional development of librarians at public libraries across the country.
"The partnership agreement with Electronic Information for Libraries has surely arrived at the right time, as it will assist us to capacitate our staff members, to be able to render better services to the library users," Negumbo said.
She revealed the partnership project commenced as of August this year to April 2020, with the aim of empowering a group of Namibia Library and Archives Service librarians to become trainers, so that they can provide ongoing training within the network of public libraries in Namibia.
During this period, the Namibia Library and Archives Service and Electronic Information for Libraries jointly will assess training needs of the librarians in the library and archives service network.
It will also train a group of 17 trainers who upon completion of the training, will continuously train public librarians in the network and develop a plan for continuous capacity building of Namibia's public library network.
The trainers will learn generic training skills and knowledge in specific topics, including developing and introducing new technology-based services, re-organising library spaces, change management, using technology to improve existing information services, conducting of library impact studies as well as communications and advocacy.
After the training and mentoring programme conducted by the team, the trainers will begin training other librarians. Negumbo noted the Namibia Library and Archives Service plans to develop a Master Plan for continuous staff training, which will be integrated into the ministry's Human Resources Development Strategy by the end of the project.
"This is the Electronic Information for Libraries' first major capacity building activity in Namibia. Digital technology presents major opportunities for libraries to contribute to local and national development and we are really happy to be able to play a role in the exciting changes that are taking place in the Namibian libraries," said Ramune Petuchovaite, the Public Library Innovation programme Manager.
Namibia Library and Archives Service is mandated to ensure equitable access to knowledge and information for lifelong learning, by creating and maintaining professional expertise and nationwide network of libraries and information centres.
Electronic Information for Libraries works with libraries, to enable access to knowledge in developing and transition economy countries in Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe and Latin America.